Holes in the Fence

I don’t have a huge temper, and when it does rear its ugly head, I usually can keep it in check. (No need to confirm that with my husband, though…) Where I am the most tempted to let it loose is with my children. This is probably because they push my buttons the most effectively! And why shouldn’t they have that access to my buttons? It goes hand-in-hand with the access that they have to my heart.
However, I know all too well the devastating consequences that can come from things said in anger and the importance of controlling a temper. I have always loved this tale- there are several versions running around there on the Wide Wide World of Web. So I didn’t write this one, but it is a story that has stayed with me:

There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.

The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”

The little boy then understood how powerful his words were. He looked up at his father and said “I hope you can forgive me father for the holes I put in you.”

“Of course I can,” said the father.

 

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